February 15 brings a sigh of relief:) For singles of all genders, Valentine’s Day can be a cause for anxiety.
Since I have borderline Asperger’s symptoms and tend to miss indirect and non-verbal cues, the pressure I feel to flirt in February can jitter my nerves. I have a feeling that many other men feel the same.
Why is it that, in the era of #metoo, straight guys are expected to pursue girls and not the other way around?
Evolutionary psychologists would argue that it is “natural” for a woman to choose the partner because she’ll end up having to carry his baby for nine months.
And yet, being the smart apes we are, our personality and “character” traits likely have as much to do with social conditioning as with evolutionary hard-wiring.
Indeed, a study conducted ten years ago found that when women were given the initiative to approach men as part of a speed dating experiment, they were as assertive as men who were told to approach women.
I can’t speak for the experience of women, so I won’t attempt any answers. The speed dating experiment article noted that the large size of women’s accessories makes it harder for women to be mobile at speed dating events. I wonder what role slut-shaming (by stigmatizing female sexual expression) and women’s safety concerns (e.g. the risk of being a victim of assault/ harassment) play?
Regardless, I think there are some major problems (based on my experience talking with other guys about the subject) with the expectation that men should initiate relationships.
It makes flirting and courting stressful for guys like myself, who fall on the spectrum or have other issues that impede social interaction. Male mental health is an often overlooked subject: The role flirting plays in this should be taken seriously.
I also feel that it reinforces some toxic male behaviors.
The belief that men’s “success” in dating depends on how strongly they pursue a partner can lead men to coerce women into sex.
The pressure for men to be witty and interesting when flirting encourages patronizing displays of expertise (i.e. “man-splaining”).
In a recent study of sexuality in young men, Psychologist Peggy Orenstein expressed shock at finding that “It was still all about stoicism, sexual conquest, dominance, aggression…. athleticism, (and) wealth.” All of these characteristics are–to one degree or another–seen as enhancing men’s ability to “win over” attractive women.
Readers, do you agree with my perspective?
What has your experience with flirting as a cis/trans guy/girl been like?
Leave a comment below!